The jaw-dropping, high-tech opening to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing - held as the event continues to be wrapped in political controversy and debate - was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen on television.
Tens of thousands of performers and costumes played out the 5,000 year history of China aided by gigantic state-of-the-art screens which were rolled out on the floor of the stadium and circled the entire interior as well. Every detail was under intense control (it is China) as every movement and every image celebrated the nation's past and their hopes for the future - though not much was revealed about the present and more recent tumultuous history of Communist control.
As troubled and unruly as the months of warm-up for this Olympics has been, once inside the stadium, China showed off it's might with astonishing displays.
Creative consultant Steven Spielberg left the project back in April, but his imprint was certainly visible. But under the direction of filmmaker Zhang Yimou the show was the very definition of Spectacle, blending the pageantry of the past with the most modern theatrical technology available today.
Any attempt to top this opening show by 2012 for the next Olympics has an incredibly high mark to reach. In fact, for many years to come the creation of any stadium show will have the massive shadow of this one looming overhead and few will be able to accomplish one-tenth as much.
The image of the globe inside the stadium is from the Daily Mail, whose review notes:
"Hollywood will study the DVD for years to come and plunder Beijing's visual tricks. Another sign, this, that China believes it can match any country in any department. This was a feast for the eyes cooked not from the books of ancient culture so much as the latest Microsoft manuals.
"The most arresting image was of a giant rice-paper globe around which dangling figures contrived to run, some of them upsidedown, while our own Sarah Brightman sang the 2008 Olympic anthem from the North Pole position.
"A sporting message, yes, but a political one as well. Nothing is beyond the Chinese, it said, even running upside-down. They want the future's flaming torch. They want the power."